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Philosophies of education are going to always vary for each educator because it is an individual thing. But my philosophy includes the fact that educators who practice their profession in accordance with their loftiest goals embolden our profession, enabling a plurality of voices to shine. At the same time, the capability of school systems in mediating conflicts will increase because there are those of us who have similar educational philosophies. My educational philosophy is a God given calling to help our youth, give back to our upcoming future achievers and to truly make a difference in someone else life. Therefore it is possible to outline core values that what is permissible and should become standardizing even among the majority presently existing in education and in educational guidelines. For instance, inclusion and egalitarianism philosophies should always exemplify educational institutions even when these goals or standards are not fully attainable in mode. Transcendentalism and existentialism examine educational methods and encourage creative approaches to the profession. Finally, feminism remains the stepping stones and is concrete of any educational philosophy that is personally essential, inherently realistic, and humanly trustworthy.
Feminist educational philosophies do not restrict their conversation when it comes to gender, although gender may be an essential figure of speech to analyze friendly unfairness. Starting around the late 80s and in complete and rare form during the beginning of the 90s, feminism and other philosophies like neo-Marxism have made heavy impacts on my personal educational philosophy. Dewey's pragmatic theories pervade the philosophy of education, and are flexible and adaptable to any ideology ("A History of Educational Theory").
When existential problems arise, for example the outlook of reality itself, we can move near pragmatism as a judge. Shook talks about and explains the possible animosity that began in the quest for perfect knowledge. Hearkening to a Platonic vision of ideal forms, Shook exclaims: "Transcendental realism is unnecessary and indemonstrable, and pragmatism's naturalistic empiricism is sufficient to guard against outright idealism (Shook, 2000). All possibilities should be explored realistically when it comes to education instead of putting things together that's not true. I believe that all claims to absolute knowledge and absolute truth are open to doubt and therefore education should always require compliance as important ideals.
Personal psychological needs are sufficed in education and the desires of comprehensions of knowledge that facilitates understanding. Individual differences, however, suggest that students may not all agree as to what facts or figures are important to learn. We all remember wondering in school, "How is this going to help me find a job?" or "When am I going to need to know this when I grow up?" This means that an exploration of meaning is very important in educational establishments but the formation and organization is just as relevant. Placing curricular subjects in real-world context will allow educators to select materials that inspire students rather than turn them off to learning entirely. Cavell's philosophy of education inspired me to appreciate individual differences in the quest for truth, as Cavell was "concerned with the finding or recovery of the human voice, and of finding one's own voice," (Peters, 1999).
Education also serves a distinct sociological function. Students learn social norms in school directly through the curriculum and indirectly through peer-group interactions. As such, schools inculcate entire generations with the prevailing social norms and values. This profound responsibility must not be taken lightly by educators. Feminist philosophies of education address sociological and political realities through pedagogical, structural and curricular transformations. Educators need to ensure that curricula and school procedures reflect gender, racial, and class equity so that schools become the primary means of creating social justice. Moreover, Dewey's pragmatism informs a feminist educational philosophy because ultimately social justice is a pragmatic goal (Garrison, 1999).
As I prepare to become an educator, I am interested in teaching middle school because in middle school, students study the typical mix of subjects in a typical format where the teacher leads and students follow. At this age students generally have their own identity but if they are headed in the wrong direction, change is definitely and option before it's too late. Personally from just being a part of my daughter's life as she began to develop and mature through her middle age, the most important attribute that middle school teachers can have is an understanding of preadolescents, mixed with a dose of patience. That's because middle school students don't know why their brains don't work. They lose things, they forget to turn in assignments, and they can get sidetracked walking to their next class. The role of the teacher is to engage students in an active dialogue, translate information into the students' current sphere of understanding and motivate students to think about what they are learning (Webb, Metha, & Jordan, 2010, p. 360).
I feel that there are many ways to reach and teach the middle school mind. When I look at middle school students, I can plainly see the evidence of physical maturity. Although some of the children look older and have many physical features as high school students, once you hold a conversation with them, it is obvious that they are still babies trying to find themselves. For this reason, I have chosen intrapersonal intelligence which describes the ability to recognize, appreciate and contend with the feelings, beliefs, and intentions of other people but also knowing self (Nolan, 2003). The middle school student may be a walking contradiction, but the opportunity to change the shape of their brains is still one of our greatest challenges-and one of the greatest opportunities I will ever have.
Although my desire is to teach middle school, I did and educational assessment on myself and found that according to the assessment, my instructional practices and choices of curriculum result in a U-shaped curve. While this can be viewed as inconsistent, it also indicates a high degree of belief in divergent and diverse systems. This suggests that I am able to use the most appropriate tools for the environment, and recognizes that teaching environments can differ greatly from one school to the next, and even from one class to the next within the same school. Understanding the unique needs of individual students within a particular classroom environment, means understanding the best way to reach those students in order to help them be successful in their future. In general, the assessment did provide an accurate picture in that I seek the most appropriate way to reach my students regardless to what grade I choose to teach. I do not believe that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to education. However, I also recognize that there are education theories that can be highly beneficial to understanding how individual students learn-whether through theoretical approaches, practical approaches, or some combination. I particularly have found the INTASC standards to be helpful as I move forward towards this career, and believe that they are valuable for experienced as well as new teachers.
My education philosophy focuses not "just" on teaching subject matter, but on encouraging students to develop a lifelong commitment to learning. While formal education may end after high school or college, learning is a lifelong process that continues on. Whether we are learning as part of on-the-job training or as part of a formal schooling process, the desire to learn and the quest for knowledge is one that enriches each of us and makes us better members of society, better family members, and better friends to those around us. It is this love of learning, and desire to learn, that I ultimately hope to instill in my students. This is not to say that the subject matter is not paramount, only that I believe that students can master a subject and learn to love learning at the same time. That this can happen within the context of a divergent approach to education-as my assessment shows-can also take place, at least if Hollywood is to be believed.
The movies have created an archetype from "The Inspirational Teacher," yet these teachers vary in their approaches and the subjects they teach. From Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver to Glenn Holland in Mr. Holland's Opus to John Keating in Dead Poet's Society and even reaching back to Mr. Chips in Goodbye Mr. Chips, films have portrayed the enormous impact that teachers can have on students' lives. Most educators can recall at least one teacher who inspired them to go into teaching, or who was instrumental in focusing their love of learning, and each of us desires-I suspect-to have that same effect on at least some of the students that we come across in our careers.
A classroom is not a movie, however, and today's educators must confront not only severe budget cuts and students who are overbooked with sports and lessons, but must also work within the parameters of No Child Left Behind, pressure to meet testing requirements, and the threat of violence directed at teachers and students in the wake of Columbine.
It is all too easy to focus on the many negatives surrounding education rather than on the reasons that we became educators-the desire to instill knowledge and a love of learning in students. Budget cuts, competition between private and public schools, differing philosophies of magnet schools versus traditional schools, and the clashes that are inevitable between teachers and administrators can draw one's focus away from the students. The challenge is to find the right balance between meeting the needs of students while working within the challenging framework that is today's educational environment.
What is real, true, good, beautiful, and logical in education is the fusion of the practical and the idealistic. Pragmatism focuses on the here-and-now to deliver content to students in a meaningful way. Students learn through genuine appreciation of the material and abstract worlds. Educators recognize individual differences through curriculum adaptations, flexibility, and differential pedagogies. Social pragmatism in education fearlessly tackles the political issues educators frequently find themselves facing. Rather than shy away from the political side of education, we can embrace our responsibilities as educators in search of social change. Education is also idealistic. Teaching allows us to impart wisdom and experience, stimulating analysis and creative discussions in the classroom. Regardless of a student's grades and other means of learning strategies, education is greatly achieved when they are creatively engaged. I establish feminist ideals and put them into practice every single day because this is a part of my personal philosophy of education. I am aware that my support of different styles and approaches can appear contradictory to some, but I believe that it provides a necessary richness and flexibility to my teaching that will offer my students a positive experience. Ideally, they will not only learn the subject at hand, but appreciate the process of learning itself.